Naked Pizza: An Industry Game-Changer Opens In Lexington

Lexington, KY – It was September 2009 on a leisurely Sunday and local businessman David Lawyer was relaxing and reading the Sunday New York Times. One article that attracted his attention was an article about a new but growing pizza concept based in New Orleans called Naked Pizza ( ). David read the article and, upon finishing the article, stood up and realized that this was something he wanted to do. That very day he e-mailed the founder and began learning about the concept and what he needed to do to become one of their first franchisees. Naked Pizza is about a restaurant business model that takes to heart the belief that healthy food can look great, taste great and be a profitable business venture. He believes that the entrepreneurial spirit channeled in the right way can improve lives and society by offering new and better choices than currently exist. In other words, rather than fast food contributing to a national (and international) epidemic of obesity it can be part of the cure. Early investors in the franchisor include billionaire Mark Cuban.
David’s first store opened in the St. Matthews area of Louisville, and his first Lexington store, which just opened, is part of the condo complex called The Lex located at 861 South Broadway. He has a multi-unit development plan that includes different regions of Kentucky. The concept’s business model is also built around a carry-out and delivery only in a space efficient format that will help maximize sales per square foot.
To understand what Naked Pizza is about, it’s instructive to look at the ingredients used. The dough, sauce and cheese do not contain the preservatives, additives, colorants and other chemicals found in many food products. The calories are minimized by using multi-grain dough mix and by not adding sugar and butter. The multi-grain aspect is a diverse blend of ancestral grain and seeds that were selected to combine for maximum taste and nutrient value. This also increases the plant protein content. The cheese is skim milk mozzarella.
The ingredients have both a prebiotic and probiotic dimension to them. Prebiotic is a type of fiber that improves your balance of probiotic bacteria and aids in the absorption of calcium which improves bone health. Probiotics are bacteria that improve digestive health and have other benefits. The product does not have trans fats and butter. So, the concept’s ingredients have as a foundation health benefits not commonly found, including reduced glycemic response and improved digestion, characteristics that would be useful as part of a weight management system. And a gluten- free pizza option is available.
The menu sports interesting graphics and options for the consumer. You can pick a size and then pick ingredients with “Flora” options (fruits and vegetables); “Fauna” options (meat); and cheese.
There are ten pizza choices you can choose among with names like Pima, Superbiotic, Omnivore, Mediterranean, Farmvil, Sonoran, Greenhouse, Smokehouse and Ragin’ Cajun. Three sizes are available. Also on the menu is a spinach salad and “mojomega breadstixx.”
At the end of the day, however, in the brutal competitive environment of fast food and especially the pizza segment, success turns on whether the product tastes great.
Based on my personal experience and that of others, this concept really delivers on this front, as well as the health benefits.
A great example is the Superbiotic Pizza made with artichoke, spinach, bell pepper, mushroom, garlic, onion and cilantro. This pie first “wows” you with its wonderful natural colorful visual appeal. In the food industry it’s often observed that people “eat with their eyes first” and this pizza has a mouth watering look to it. And the taste lives up to the visual appeal.
Besides great pizza, this concept is a tech and social media savvy business. The two co-founders, Jeff Leach and Randy Crochet, have integrated social media into their franchise from the outset. They have been extremely successful and part of the reason, I think, is that their social media strategy is underpinned by a social responsibility philosophy and mission which, in turn, makes their social media strategy more credible, enduring and effective.
It has been reported that Naked Pizza is the most blogged about business in the world and Twitter uses them as a case study. You can also find them on Facebook.
The company uses sophisticated POS (point of sale) technology and each store is equipped with a custom iPad Kiosk for order-placing, Tweeting and signing up for email newsletters. And, of course, the company is working on a Naked Pizza iPhone app.
The Lexington market has a tradition of restaurant entrepreneurial spirit and David Lawyer continues that by being a pioneer in one of the hottest restaurants concepts on the international stage.

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